WHY EVERY ATHLETE SHOULD CONSIDER USING A FOAM ROLLER
For any of you who have ever had a knot or trigger point worked on by a massage therapist, a spouse or willing friend, then you yourself may have uttered these same words, “that hurts so bad, but please keep going.” You may be surprised at how many of these knots you have within your muscles at this current moment. Trauma to a muscle will result in microspasms, which will in turn create myofascial adhesions. These adhesions are formed by the body’s natural protective response anytime there is direct force, muscle imbalance, poor posture or repetitive stressors. These adhesions cause a decrease in normal muscle function and will cause other nearby muscles to work harder which can lead to further imbalances and ultimately injury.
Enter the foam roller. Especially for the lower body and back, routinely using a foam roller can prove to be a valuable tool in staving off injury as it will help to break up these myofascial adhesions and release the microspasms. This will give the underlying muscle a chance to function at its optimal length.
Foam rollers are versatile and you will begin by positioning the foam roller on the floor underneath the desired muscle. Next you will roll back and forth up and down the length of the muscle at a controlled pace. If you find one area of the muscle to be tender then you can focus the foam roller underneath this area for about 30 seconds or until you feel the muscle start to relax. This does not always feel pleasant so please remember to relax…don’t hold your breath! Commonly overworked muscles that can benefit from foam rolling are the calves, peroneals (outside shin), IT-band, quads, adductors (inside thigh), piriformis and thoracic spine.
A foam roller alone will not keep you injury free, but it should be incorporated into either your post-workout stretching program or your strength training program. These generally cost around $20.00 and is a good investment for your health. There are contraindications (reasons not to use a foam roller) so please check with your medical practitioner or a health and fitness professional before using this tool.
These are the thoughts and opinions of the author and they do not constitute medical advice. For advice on medical issues you should always consult your local medical practitioner.